What are the Privacy Laws for Employment Verification?

When applying for a new position, a potential employer will want to verify a candidate’s credentials. Falsifying information is not uncommon and this process ensures employers are hiring candidates with bona fide experience.  

According to the Future of Work 2021 Special Report “employers reported that 66% ‘exaggerate skill level’ on their resume “ 

These statistics combined with the growing job seeking population demonstrate the value and necessity of verification. However, this authentication process includes the accessing of personal information of current or past employees.  

All employers are bound by privacy obligations of all present and past employees’ records, and as an employer it is important to know what you can disclose.  As an employee, it is essential to understand these obligations and how personal information must be treated. 

What is Employment Verification?  

Employment Verification is the confirmation of employment information given by an applicant for a new role. 

When seeking verification, the details that may be authenticated include:  

  • Job Title 
  • Employment Type (Contract, Full Time, Part Time) 
  • Length of Employment  
  • Qualifications  
  • Working Rights 

How do privacy laws govern what an employer can disclose?  

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) requires employers to keep their employees personal information within their employee records.  

The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act) promotes and protects personal information collected by certain entities including some small businesses, all Australian agencies, private healthcare providers and businesses whose annual turnover exceeds $3 million [1].  

The two types of information within the Privacy Act includes Personal and Sensitive Information:  

  • Personal Information includes employment history, type, title   
  • Sensitive Information includes racial or ethnic background, political association, religious views, criminal record, health 

Can an employer disclose personal information details about an employee? 

While the Privacy Act governs many business privacy obligations and dealings, it does not govern the disclosure of employee records regarding current and former employment relationships (unless it a business mentioned above).  

The impact of this exemption is that a former or current employer can provide personal information relating to the employee records. 

What privacy procedures should business have in place?  

All businesses should have a clear privacy policy surrounding the collection and usage of employees’ information. Compliance with the Australian Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act is mandatory for some businesses. However, these principles should form the basis of all businesses’ privacy policies. Specifically, the policy should clearly outline the methods of collection and the specific usage of employee’s information. It should specify the type of personal information it will disclose when a third party is seeking employee verification.  

Do you need a privacy policy or would you like to review an existing policy?  

Please contact our client engagement team or call us on (07) 3252 0011 to book an appointment with one of our Lawyers today. 

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